Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Extreme Couponing Premiers Tonight On TLC

After the pilot episode that aired back in January was so successful, TLC decided to turn Extreme Couponing into a series.  It will begin tonight at 9 Eastern/ 8 Central.  There will be two 30 minute episodes shown back to back, and starting next week there will be a single 30 minute episode each Wednesday evening at 9:30 Eastern.  If you missed the hour long pilot episode, you can catch it again tonight at 8 Eastern/7 Central on TLC.

I guess since the pilot episode caused such controversy, I feel obligated to say a few things about this show.  Many people were completely turned off after watching the people portrayed on this show and refuse to watch it again.  Many others new to couponing were discouraged by the fact that their savings in no way stack up to those seen on TV, and so they think they are doing something wrong.  Many other people noted that their stores would have never allowed the things that happened on the show.  Many people also thought that this should be be the casting call for the next season of Hoarders...

So, that being said, here are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to watch:
--It is TV, and reality TV at that (which we all know is far from "reality").
--The shoppers were asked to plan out their most extreme shopping trip EVER.  Obviously that is going to make them go a bit overboard and spend A LOT of time prepping.  NORMAL SHOPPING TRIPS DO NOT TAKE THIS MUCH EFFORT.
--The camera crews were with these people for HOURS, and only 15 minutes of it made the cut.
--The stores they are in had to ok this filming, and would obviously want to put their best face forward on TV, so I expect that rules were bent and special orders of items were made.
--The people have massive amounts of the same coupon, which they had to obtain for somewhere.  Most likely they were purchased online.  Who knows how much the coupons themselves cost, and they are never factored into the savings shown.  It did briefly mention that one lady spent $70 on her coupons.  That is my whole weekly food budget, and she hadn't even made it to the store yet!
--The show never showed what the people actually did with the food.  One of the lady's later posted on her blog a video of she and her daughter bringing 200lbs of food to a local food bank!

Will I be watching?  You bet!  I've already got my Tivo set to record.  I found it to be a very entertaining and inspiring show when I watched the pilot episode (ok, I admit it, about 4 times...and I'm sure I'll watch it again tonight!).  Mixed within the "just for the ratings" stuff were great tidbits of information about the timing of sale cycles and how to easily obtain extra coupons, to list a couple.

The description of the new season promises to show more of how couponing can benefit the whole community and I seriously hope to see some of that.  All we got on the pilot was one measly comment about how the guy was going to donate a bunch of cereal to his church.  (I certainly hoped he wasn't going eat all 1,000 boxes himself!)  I also hope there is much more of showing the ins and outs of planning shopping trips than just shock value.  I mean, it *is* The LEARNING Channel for crying out loud!

I sort of felt bad for the people on the show because I thought that some of them came off being portrayed in a negative light.  15 minutes of anything isn't going to give a well rounded story, and it only left people to make assumptions and judge for themselves, however poorly.   I even read blog posts from some that said they were grossly misquoted, or that things that were said pertaining to one aspect were made to seem as if they were talking about something else.

My advice: don't take any of it too seriously.  Learn from it what you can.  Be entertained.  Be inspired to do better.  If it disgusts you, turn it off.  Most importantly, try not to judge these people.  You may think they are off their rocker, but like I said before, you are only getting a very skewed 15 minute glance into their lives.  If people aren't going to gasp and call all of their friends to tell them to turn the TV on, then most networks would call that a failure.  I would certainly be very leery if they called me to be on the show.  I don't think they would accept me though.  I don't have a garage wall covered in toilet paper. ;)

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